Beware of the fake Mavis Wanczyk — or the many fake Mavises, to be more precise.
Police in Chicopee are warning residents that multiple social media accounts claiming to be the winner of the recent $758 million Powerball jackpot have sprouted up, offering strangers a bit of that cash windfall in exchange for personal information.
“We are well aware of many fake accounts being created on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram stating they are Mavis Wanczyk and that following and answering private messages will result in you getting money,” police in this small Western Massachusetts city said on Facebook.
“PLEASE do not fall for these scams. DO NOT give out any personal information to these accounts. Do not fall victim to a scammer by releasing ANY of your information.”
In the comments section beneath the post, people reported having come across accounts they believed to be fake. Police urged residents to report any such accounts to the social media platform where they found them.
“So does that mean she isn’t giving me 1 million dollars,” someone wrote in response to the warning, apparently joking with police.
Wanczyk, 53, rose to fame last week when she came forward as the winner of the largest Powerball jackpot awarded to a single player.
A Chicopee resident and mother of two adult children, Wanczyk was leaving work at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield last Wednesday night when she learned the winning numbers.
At first blush, the Massachusetts State Lottery mistakenly identified Handy Variety, in Watertown, as selling the winning ticket. Hours later, the agency came forward and corrected the error. The winning ticket, which Wanczyk held in her hands, had actually been sold at a Pride Station & Store, 80 miles away.
After Wanczyk went public, people began creating accounts online, impersonating the former hospital worker.
A quick scan of Facebook shows there are more than a dozen accounts using both Wanczyk’s name and picture. One of the top pages has more than 3,000 “likes” and features messages purporting to be from Wanczyk.
And on Twitter, there are at least 13 accounts using photos of Wanczyk, or the giant lottery check she received, claiming to be her.
If Wanczyk’s initial statements after winning were any indication, she probably isn’t spending much time interacting with strangers online.
“The first thing I want to do is just sit back and relax,” she said last week, after going public. “I want to just be me and be alone and . . . figure out what I want to do.”
Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.